Google Foists Plan to Open TV Airwaves to Internet Access

Google this week issued a letter to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), asking that the agency open up so-called unlicensed "white space" in the US television spectrum for wireless broadband Internet access. The white space exists between channels 2 and 51 on today's TV sets but will be soon made obsolete as the US switches to fully digital television signals.

"As Google has pointed out previously, the vast majority of viable spectrum in this country simply goes unused, or else is grossly underutilized," the Google letter notes. "The spectrum is way too valuable to be wasted. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide ubiquitous wireless broadband access to all Americans."

Google isn't the only company petitioning the government to open up this spectrum to Internet access; software giant Microsoft has made similar appeals, as have Dell and Intel. But Google has been very active in the open airwaves movement of late, and its proposal includes plans to free up airwaves when require by the government or military.

Google previously petitioned the FCC successfully last year to add an open access provision to a recent government auction of radio spectrum. That auction was won by a variety of telecommunications giants, including Verizon, AT&T, and Vodafone. But thanks to Google's work, those airwaves will be open to devices made by those companies' competition.

While it may seem as though Google doesn't benefit directly from these actions, the company is, of course, being self-serving: In addition to prepping an upcoming smart phone platform called Android which will benefit from these open airwaves, Google's primary business today is selling advertising online. The bigger that market is, the better it is for Google.

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